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Atty. Alona C. MercadoToday I cast my vote for Dr. Rey Pagtakhan

Dr. Rey Pagtakhan

Now, before all sorts of rumours start about Dr. Rey running again for elected office, let me be clear. I voted for Dr. Rey to become one of Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants.

The Canadian Immigrant is a website and a magazine published in Toronto and Vancouver. According to their website, the mission of Canadian Immigrant is to be the world’s number one online and print resource for Canadian immigrants by helping them to settle in Canada successfully as they move through their immigrant journey. Beginning in 2009, they hosted an on-line election to name the country’s top 25 immigrants. Every year, nominations are received from across Canada. At the end of the nomination phase, approximately 500 nominations are received. A judging panel then reviews the initial nominations. Judges rate each nominee based on a set of criteria, which includes achievements, how the nominees have inspired others in Canada and the challenges they have overcome to do so.

Voting will take place until April 14, 2012

Once the judge submit their rankings, all the votes are tabulated and the names on the Top 75 shortlist are ranked, based on highest scores received. These are the 75 award candidates who are then profiled on canadianimmigrant.ca/top25 for the voting phase of the program. Once the voting has concluded, the top final 25 will be selected by the judging panel and by popular vote – each will count for 50% of the final score given to each candidate.

I proudly voted for Dr. Pagtakhan in every election he ran for Member of Parliament (except in his first historic win in 1988 because I was not 18 yet). I think it is fitting that he has been nominated for to be one of Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants and I would like to thank the individuals who nominated him. His achievements in our community and in the whole of Canada are too numerous to list. However, here is the profile from the website:

About Dr. Rey Pagtakhan

• Dr. Rey Pagtakhan – a retired lung specialist for children and pediatric professor; author of several papers and chapters for medical journals and books; and widely lectured – is the first ever Filipino Canadian elected to Canada’s Parliament and appointed senior cabinet minister in the Government of Canada.

• First elected in 1988 – 20 years after landing in Canada – and serving for 15 and a half years until 2004, he chaired the Committee on Citizenship and Immigration; was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien; acted as parliamentary advisor to three Ministers of Health on international and aboriginal health; and served as Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific and Science, Research and Development), Minister of Veterans Affairs, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and regional Minister for Manitoba.

• He helped secure federal funding for major Manitoba projects, for example, Red River Floodway Expansion, International Center for Infectious Diseases and the Seven Oaks Wellness Institute.

• The first Filipino Canadian appointed to the Winnipeg Police Commission (paved the way for the elimination of “citizenship” as a requirement for applicants to the Police service) and the first Chairman of the Board of Presidents of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council (a coalition of 37 national ethnocultural organizations in Canada that played a pivotal role in the government resolving the Japanese redress issue), he has continued his volunteer advocacy in his retirement, serving as Founding Director (2005-2006) of the University of Winnipeg’s Global College (dedicated to advancing human rights and global citizenship), lecturing on health and parliamentary doctrines and writing a regular column, Medisina at Politika, for Pilipino Express News Magazine to engage the public on broader issues in medicine and politics.

• He has received several awards and honours, including the Missouri and St. Louis Heart Associations’ Joint Research Fellowship, Philippine Presidential Citation for Outstanding Filipino Overseas, Queen Elizabeth Silver and Golden Jubilee Medals, University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society Most Distinguished Alumnus and two honorary doctorates – the Doctor of Laws and the Doctor of Science. He is a member of Our Privy Council for Canada.

• Dr. Rey Pagtakhan has, indeed, inspired and motivated other Canadian immigrants by serving as a role model, showing that hard work and determination is the key to success.

Two things not mentioned on the website that I think are of particular importance are the important and pivotal role Dr. Rey played in (1) obtaining the necessary funding for the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) (for more information about Dr. Rey’s role in the PCCM, please see my previous article entitled “Dr. Rey Pagtakhan: Twenty years later, a retrospective” (Pilipino Express, Nov.16, 2008) and (2) in the creation and early development of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. The Nominee Program came into existence under then-Liberal Federal Immigration Minister, Lucienne Robillard and the provincial Tory government. What some people may not know is that Dr. Rey worked extremely hard behind the scenes with Minister Robillard to ensure that this program not only became a reality but also to ensure that the number of applicants allowed under this program would continue to increase yearly.

Dr. Rey Pagtakhan’s influence and impact is evident not only in Winnipeg but throughout Canada. The information contained on the website and in my article are a mere glimpse of his contributions to our country.

I urge each and every one of you to go to www.canadianimmigrant.ca/top25 and vote for Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. Once you are on the voting page, simply scroll down until you see Dr. Pagtakhan’s picture. Click on the box under his name that says “Vote for me!” Then you simply need to insert your e-mail address.

You will note from the rules that you can vote for up to 3 candidates. Personally, I chose to vote strategically and voted only for Dr. Rey. Any individual with an e-mail address is eligible to vote.

I hope you join me in voting for Dr. Rey Pagtakhan. Let’s show the nation that the first and only Filipino Canadian ever elected to Canada’s Parliament deserves to be called one of Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants.

Alona C. Mercado is a lawyer practicing in Winnipeg with the law firm of Monk Goodwin LLP. She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1999 and the Ontario Bar in 2003. Her preferred areas of practice include wills and estates, committees, real estate, business and commercial transactions and immigration law. Alona can be reached at (204) 956-1060 ext. 233 oramercado@monkgoodwin.com.

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